Indies dominate KPMG Children's Books Ireland Award shortlist

Indies dominate KPMG Children's Books Ireland Award shortlist

Independent Irish publishers account for five of the eight shortlisted titles for this year's KPMG Children's Books Ireland Award.

Two titles from Little Island Books sit side by side with fellow indies Skein Press, The O'Brien Press and Futa Fata, while Macmillan Children's Books, Walker Books and Andersen Press comprise the other three. Founded in 1990, the awards "celebrate the very best of Irish writing and illustration for younger people" and are open to books by authors and illustrators who were born in Ireland, are permanently resident in Ireland or are citizens of Ireland.

The shortlisted titles are: Míp, a humorous tale of space adventure for youngest readers, written by Máire Zepf and illustrated by Paddy Donnelly (Futa Fata); The Haunted Lake, written and illustrated by P J Lynch (Walker Books), taking readers age 7+ on a journey from this land to a ghostly otherworld; The Monsters of Rookhaven, a "dark and gripping adventure full of expertly realised characters" written by Pádraig Kenny and illustrated by Edward Bettison (Macmillan Children's Books); Why the Moon Travels, written by Oein DeBhairduin and illustrated by Leanne McDonagh (Skein Press), featuring stories from the Irish Traveller community for ages 10-plus; Savage Her Reply, a retelling of the folk story of the Children of Lir written by Deirdre Sullivan and illustrated by Karen Vaughan (Little Island Books); The Boldness of Betty, a detailed insight into the plight of workers in Dublin in 1913 written by Anna Carey (The O'Brien Press); The Falling in Love Montage written by Ciara Smyth, (Andersen Press), a coming-of-age novel that shows one cannot control the future; and Hope against Hope (Little Island Books), a story of a young woman facing prejudice and violence in a divided society for teen and young adult readers, written by Sheena Wilkinson.

The eight shortlisted titles will compete for a total of six awards, with the winners to announced at an online ceremony on 25th May by broadcaster Rick O’Shea as part of International Literature Festival Dublin. Taking the role of ‘Young Judge’ for this year is Sarah Fitzgerald (17) from Kinsale, who has read 99 books as part of the judging process.

The six awards are The Book of the Year Award, The Honour Awards for Fiction and Illustration, the Judges’ Special Award, the Junior Juries’ Award and the Eilís Dillon Award for a first children’s book, named in honour of the Irish children’s author Eilís Dillon.

Children’s Books Ireland, the national charity and arts organisation that administers the awards, will  be working closely with Junior Juries – groups of children and young people who will read and judge the shortlisted titles. The juries’ scores decide the winner of the Junior Juries Award. The awards judging panel also includes a Young Judge who reads and adjudicates alongside their adult counterparts.

This year’s Young Judge, Sarah Fitzgerald (aged 17), said: "Joining the panel for this year’s KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards was an incredible process which I enjoyed from start to finish. Reading my way through the treasure trove of Irish books was by far my highlight of 2020. Each judge contributed so much to the panel, and the insights and perspectives put forward taught me so much, and I am so grateful to have been a part of it all. I cannot imagine doing anything differently, the whole process was fun, transparent and insightful. I was made to feel so welcome by everyone, and it was clear that, as a young person, my thoughts were valuable to the group. Hearing the voice of someone immersed in children’s books is so important in the process. And while we all enjoyed the process, we certainly worked hard!"

Elaina Ryan, c.e.o. of Children’s Books Ireland, said: "In an incredibly challenging year, our judges have worked tirelessly to maintain the integrity of these important awards, whittling 99 books down to just eight. We are so grateful to our sponsors and funders for ensuring that young readers are supplied with books and get the opportunity to meet the wonderful artists behind them.’

The final awards ceremony will take place in May, with the Book of the Year winner receiving €6,000, and the other categories €2,000.

The awards and Junior Juries programme are supported by the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Ecclesiastical Movement for Good Awards.